Capturing Her Highland Keeper
Time to Love a Highlander – Book 4
Lyla knows she needs something—she just doesn’t know what.
Lyla Smythe is restless with that same uncomfortable edginess that always hits before a major life shakeup. She just needs to stay busy and ignore the feeling. Maybe it’s because her annoying sister moved in. Opposites in every way, at least they share a love of the stars.
Armed with homemade wine, they watch a meteor shower. But the wine must be tainted. One minute, they’re retching in the night, the next, it’s morning. And Edinburgh has somehow become a tiny hamlet. Before Lyla can sort it out, riders approach. The leader, a fiercely handsome man, sets her sixth sense buzzing.
Grant knows what he needs—but he’s afraid to repeat the past.
After his uncle’s execution, Chieftain Grant Reddoch trusts very few. When he comes upon two strangely dressed women acting addled, he’s certain they are spies. Best take them prisoner. Keep allies close. Keep those you don’t trust closer. The one called Lyla unnerves him. She clouds his judgement with the endearing friendliness of an irresistible puppy.
With growing political unrest, the last thing he needs are distractions. But the more he’s around Lyla, the more he needs her. And so, they wed. Then she tells him of her past and forces him to realize his error. He needs a wife and mother to his bairns. Not a woman suffering from lunacy. He locks her away for her own safety. Like he should have done with his first wife before she hanged herself.
Lyla knows she can make Grant happy and be a good mother to his children—if only he will let her. One way or another, she will capture her Highland keeper and love him until he has no choice but to accept time travel and love her as fiercely as she loves him.
Looking for a sigh-worthy page turner to make you laugh, cry, and stay up entirely too late to find out what happens? Then this Scottish historical time travel romance by USA TODAY bestselling author Maeve Greyson is the one for you. An Alpha male Highlander, a feisty modern-day woman, and a love that ignores the boundaries of time. Escape to the Highlands. Leave reality behind!
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Lyla realized she had been wrong. She and Abby had more in common than the same set of parents. They shared a love for the stars. Always had. For as far back as either of them could remember.
“You know,” Abby called out from behind her, struggling to walk, talk, and breathe at the same time. “We could have taken the trail that’s a gentle stroll along Salisbury Crags.”
“You’re out of shape.” Lyla tossed a grin back at her sister. Too much time behind a desk had made Abbysoft. “This way has the best view. Just look down there at Edinburgh. All lit up like a Christmas tree. And you can enjoy the Crags from this route, too.”
“If you say so.” Abby panted and wheezed, stumbling along, the beam from the headlamp strapped to her cap bobbing with every step.
Lyla adjusted her cap’s beam to better light the dirt trail and prevent stumbling. She didn’t want to risk breaking the wine bottles stowed in her backpack. Out of mercy for Abby’s less-than-athletic state, she carried all four of them, plus two canisters of water, a blanket, and the brass monocular she had borrowed from Mr. Culpepper, who had once been quite the seafarer. Abby’s backpack only held two bags of chips—basically crunchy, potato-flavored air. The distractions of cell phones and pagers stayed back at the apartment. Nothing tonight but pure relaxation.
Clear skies and a refreshing summer breeze accompanied them. It was the perfect evening for the nearly two-hour hike to the summit of the extinct volcano. Arthur’s Seat. Overlooking Edinburgh. She paused and let her gaze sweep across the vista below. The city’s nightlife made it sparkle and gleam like a blazing crystal chandelier. But man-made lighting couldn’t compare with the blanket of stars filling the sky. The serene beauty floating above her lifted her spirits, appeasing the elusive unknown that had been nagging at her for the past few months. It was glorious, like a dark sea carrying endless points of light to the edges of eternity and beyond.
The closer they came to the summit, the stronger the wind gusted, pushing against their backs as if to hurry them along. Lyla loved it. She’d worked up a bit of sweat. But thanks to her daily walk with her four-legged patrons, breathing came easy as they reached their destination.
“Bloody hell.” Abby sagged forward and propped her hands on her knees, sucking in as much air as she could. “I have to find a gym here in Edinburgh.” She reached up and flicked off her headlamp. “No need for this now. Plenty of light from the moon.”
Lyla slid her pack to the ground and started unpacking. “Here’s the blanket. Over there looks nice and grassy. Pat around to make sure we don’t end up with rocks up our bums.”
“Now, who’s the bossy one?” Abby shook out the wool plaid, spread it across the ground, then crawled back and forth over it, smoothing the wrinkles and patting it down for stones.
“We’ll weigh it down with these.” Lyla placed a pack on the corners of the dark green and blue Blackwatch tartan, then took out a pint of wine for each of them. “Liniment or olive oil?” She held up a green bottle in one hand and a brown in the other.
“Olive oil, thank you.” Abby accepted the pint, pulled out the cork, and sniffed. “Wow. What proof is this?”
“Knowing Mrs. McCleary, stout as she can get it. It’ll probably peel paint.” Lyla settled down beside her and uncorked hers with her teeth. Fumes wafted up into her face, making her nose tingle and her eyes water. “Wow is right. I wonder if it’s safe to drink?”
“You go first,” Abby said with a sisterly nudge.
“No, just cautious. That’s why you’re seven minutes older than I am.” Abby beamed a wicked grin as she clicked the neck of her bottle against Lyla's. “I toast your fearlessness, Lyla Louella.”
“Call me that again and I’ll roll you back down that trail.” After another sniff of the possibly volatile beverage, Lyla tossed caution to the wind and took a hearty swig. Big mistake. Liquid fire. It burned her mouth. Her throat. Every inhale sizzled hotter than the one before. She fully expected to spew flames at any moment. But the sensation finally abated and settled into a pleasant, blood-warming mulberryness that seemed to increase the capacity of her lungs and charge her energy to full capacity. Amazed, she stared at the bottle. “She should sell this as a health tonic. I can breathe better, and everything’s brighter and more focused.”
“I think that’s called being stoned.” Abby hazarded a sip, immediately choked, and succumbed to a coughing fit.
“Don’t panic.” Lyla thumped her on the back. “Ride out that first wave. Soon you’ll be breathing better than you have in years.”
“Bless my soul, you’re right.” Abby pulled in a deep breath, her eyes widening in amazement. “I wonder how she makes this stuff?”
“A secret she’ll take to her grave, I’m sure.” Lyla hazarded another taste, bracing herself for the initial burn. It wasn’t as bad, making her wonder if she’d seared off a few nerve endings the first time. She took a deeper drink, noticing more of a sweet grape flavor than the mulberry tanginess this time. “And it changes with every sip.” She nudged Abby. “Give it another go. You’ll see what I mean.”
Abby took a deeper swig, then giggled. “Keep this up and we’ll be too rat-arsed to make it back down the trail.”
A blaze of brilliant whiteness streaked across the sky.
“Look! It’s starting!” Lyla set the bottle aside and plopped onto her back. She snagged hold of Abby’s shirt and tugged. “Lay back like this. The stars wash across you.”
On their backs, shoulder to shoulder, the sisters stared up at the radiating points of light shooting across the backdrop of star-studded, velvety darkness.
“They remind me of a pod of dolphins jumping through the waves,” Abby whispered.
“Nature’s fireworks.” Lyla reached up and stretched her fingers toward the sky. “What if we could catch hold and ride along with them? Wouldn’t that be wonderful?”
Abby didn’t answer.
Lyla let her hands drop and turned to her twin. “Abby? You all right?”
“I'm a bit unwell, actually.” Eyes squeezed shut, Abby held the sides of her head as though she feared it would split in two.
“Probably the wine.” Lyla pushed up to a sitting position. Or tried to. A nauseating, spinning sensation shoved her back down. “Bloody hell. It’s hit me now.”
“Do you think it poisoned us?”
“I don’t know the symptoms of alcohol poisoning.” Lyla risked opening an eye. The whirling didn’t seem quite so bad as long as she kept still and didn’t open both eyes at the same time. “You’re the one with all the degrees. Are nausea and head-spinning symptoms?”
Abby started crying. Not quiet, sedate adult tears, but the high-pitched, whiny blubbering of a child with hurt feelings. “Don’t make fun of me for being smart. I just wanted to help people. That’s why I went to University.”
“God help me,” Lyla muttered to herself. She wasn't well enough to deal with a crying drunk right now. Especially not when that drunk was Abby. “We’ll just rest here until we feel better. I’m sure we’ll be fine.” She forced open both eyes, determined not to miss the rest of the meteor shower. Big mistake. Unseen pressure rushed in from all sides, squeezing against her and somehow making it seem as though the land itself was about to shoot her upward. She swore the ground trembled as if preparing to heave. “Abby—did you feel that?”
Still holding her head, Abby groaned, rolled to her knees, and barely made it off the blanket before she started retching.
“Believe I’ll join you.” Lyla rolled the other way and rid herself of everything she’d eaten for the past month. “Bloody hell, I think I just turned myself inside out.” She collapsed back on the blanket, curled into a ball, and prayed to die so she would feel better.
The sick churning in her head and stomach finally abated. The weird squeezing-in from every direction stopped, too. Thank heaven for that. Lyla cracked open an eye the barest slit then fully opened them both. Daylight? How in blazes had it gotten to be daytime already? She hadn’t passed out. If she had, she would know it. Maybe.
Her sister huddled beside her on the blanket, kneeling, hunched over with her arms hugging her head and her nose touching her knees. Turtle-in-the-shell mode. She had done that since they were little any time she got overwhelmed.
Lyla poked her. “Abby. It’s morning. Wake up.”
“I am not asleep,” came the muffled response, but her twin didn’t move.
Lyla nudged her again. “Come on. It’s morning. We must’ve passed out after we got sick. Let’s have some water, then head down for a proper cup of tea to sort us for the day.” She pushed herself to her feet, squinting against the day’s sunny brilliance. Gorgeous sky—lightest blue with brushstrokes of wispy white clouds. Birds singing. Warm summer breeze rustling across the grassy hillside. She turned to take in Edinburgh’s grandeur in the morning light, then froze in place and almost choked. That was not her Edinburgh, her precious adopted city. That was a…a village. “Abby, get up! Now!”
“I feel like pure shit this morning! Stop yelling at me.” Abby uncurled from her panic position and wobbled to her feet. Hands clutching her head, eyes squeezed shut, she swayed in place. “My noggin is splitting. Do you still keep aspirin in your pack?”
“Your headache is the least of our worries.” Lyla rubbed her chest in a futile attempt at slowing the rapid pounding of her heart. Something was terribly wrong here, and she had no logical reason to explain it. “Look at the city. Look at it.”
“Why? Is it on fire or something?” Abby stepped forward and squinted at the town below. The longer she stared, the more her scowl turned to one of bewilderment. “What is that place?” she finally whispered. “And where the hell is Edinburgh?”
“I don’t know.” Gone were the paved roads. The neat tenements of reddish-brown brick closest to Holyrood Park had disappeared, too. No tall business buildings. No fancy, glass-ceilinged observatories. Edinburgh Castle was still perched on its mighty rock in the distance. But even it looked different somehow. And then it hit Lyla. There wasn’t a car, truck, or bus in sight. Not even so much as a motorbike. Only horses. Wagons. Carriages like she had seen on exhibit at the Kelvingrove Museum in Glasgow.
“We have company,” Abby whispered, tugging her around. “And they do not appear to be friendly.”
“We will make them friendly.” Determined not to panic, mainly because she knew Abby would take care of that part in spades, Lyla adopted her friendliest smile and lifted a hand in greeting to the two men riding toward them. “If this goes bad,” she warned under her breath, “shimmy over the edge and work your way down the far side of the peak. It’s a little dodgy, but you can do it. Just be careful.”
“What do you mean, if this goes bad?”
“Shh…” Lyla stepped forward, stoking her courage. “Excuse me, but my sister and I seem to have gotten rather turned around. Could we bother you for some directions?”
Both men halted their mounts and studied her, their scowling glares so cold and hard she shivered. Neither spoke. Even their monstrous horses seemed to be sizing her up for…whatever. The two were obviously Scots by their dress. And while they didn’t favor each other—one being all burly and reddish-brown as if his parentage included a man-eating bear and the other a hulking, flinty-eyed Viking type come to pillage—she guessed them to be kin since they wore the same tartan.
Their kilts differed from those she usually saw around town. Not neatly pleated knee-length things. These were great sweeping swaths of belted yardage like she had most often seen in movies. Half tempted to address them as Mr. Viking and Mr. Bear, she decided to try again. “We came up here to enjoy the meteor shower last night and must’ve drifted off to sleep.” She tossed a glance toward the town below. “And now, this morning, we are…confused.” She pointed at the castle in the distance. “Could you tell me the name of that fine-looking fortress?”
“Who are ye?” The blonde mountain with the steely eyes edged his horse closer. “And what business do ye have in Edinburgh?”
“Lyla,” Abby said in a trembling whisper. “Lyla—where are we? That cannot be—”
Lyla caught her twin by the shoulders, gave her a hard shake, then locked eyes with her. “Panicking. Will not. Help.”
“Who are ye?” the scowling Highlander repeated in a tone that dared her not to answer.
With an arm around her sister, Lyla forced a smile. “You must forgive my manners.” She flipped a hand as if shooing away her rudeness. “It’s our confusion, you see. I promise we are never this rude. I’m Lyla Smythe and this is my sister, Abby Cornwalt. It’s a pleasure to meet you, Mr.—”
“Chieftain Grant Reddoch.”
The way the man bit out the words reminded Lyla of rumbling thunder. An exciting tingle rippled up her spine and ordered the tiny hairs on the back of her neck to stand at attention. She swallowed hard and nodded at the other man. “And you, sir?”
“Malcolm Cransie. War Chief to Clan Reddoch.”
The burly man spoke with an odd, hitching rhythm as though he struggled to get out the words. Before she could respond, he brought his horse up even with Chieftain Reddoch’s. “Prisoners, my chief?”
Prisoners? Lyla shoved Abby back toward the ledge. “Run, while I stall them.”
“I said run!”